How’s this for a measure of a gift: it’s easy to use, life-changing in at least a minor way, and the lucky giftee would never in a million years pick one up unless it magically appeared in their stocking.
And then consider the shoe horn.
It’s not an essential item exactly, but most men’s morning routines would be improved by a mechanical shoe helper—and a gift from a knowing acquaintance is the perfect way to break the impasse between what’s ideal and what’s necessary. This one comes from an Italian cobbler’s shop, but there are plenty of other options in the wings if you’re willing to dig a little. We prefer the longer, standing model, but for some reason the best vintage ones tend to be the small kind. Take your pick.
Given all the outdoor gear we’ve recommended in recent months, we thought you might need something to amuse yourself once you’re out in the woods. For starters, you might want a common language.
SF’s Unionmade just got a shipment of wooden bird calls, handmade in France, which will give you a full six calls to try out the next time you find yourself in the wilderness, desiring a little avian call-and-response. (Most importantly, the calls are for North American birds, unlike a few others for sale.) And naturally, if you know any outdoorspeople desperately in need of a gift, it might come in handy.
For anyone you know well enough to talk music with, the right album can be a brilliant gift. The trick is finding one you know they’ll like, but they haven’t even heard of. Our solution, the live album.
Done right, the gadget gift can be a perfect cross-generational gambit—so as part of our ongoing gift coverage, we thought we’d tip you off to the the Roku XDS, our favorite gadget of the year.
The controls are about the same as your standard hotel pay-per-view set up: flip through a few titles with synopsis blurbs below, decide on one and click play. The difference is, you’ll be choosing from anything on Netflix, Hulu, or even Pandora if you need a jazz-funk mix for the post-holiday cleanup. And most importantly, it’s the kind of thing you can spend the morning hooking up—which is as honored a holiday tradition as we can think of.
This one is an art deco model that popped up on one of Etsy’s many fantastic vintage shops—but there’splentymore where that came from. We wouldn’t advocate vintage gifting under every circumstances, but this is one item that gets better with age.
Take particular note of those dangling tabs on the edges. The book is sealed shut when you buy it, so the giftee will have to tear it open if they want to start reading—kind of like a book with unopened pages, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Our golden rule for gift-buying is to seek out items your friends want but will never buy for themselves—either out of guilt or uncertainty or plain old retail anxiety. Find the right item (possibly over here) and you’ll be solving a problem they never could have tackled on their own.
We’re guessing you have at least one person in your circle who enjoys a drink. And yet…they probably haven’t discovered the wonders of the hip flask.
It’s a surprisingly useful item for the next time they find themselves in a frustratingly liquor-free setting, whether it’s a campsite, a cookout or a school play. And most of the ones you find will carry along a fair measure of old school charm, whether it’s this Filson model or the vintage plaid and woodgrain versions you’ll find online. Either way, no one’s ever sorry to see you bring one out, which makes for a pretty good gift.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, you need a little extra shelter for your morning pilgrimage from your bed to the shower. Some calf-length shelter. And just like that, it’s robe season again.
After examining the options, we’ve managed to find the gold standard of sleeved drapery: this silk-lined satin-piped cashmere model from Brooks Brothers. It’ll set you back more than a suit, but after you’ve spent the morning nibbling toast, sipping orange juice and perusing financial newspapers the rest of the world hasn’t even heard of, you’ll know where the money went.
In the unlikely event you’re not ready to dig quite that deep, you’ll always find adequate shelter from the brisk morning cold in a trusty cotton flannel robe like L.L. Bean’s. There’s also this new offering from Pendleton, but we’re still skeptical on how comforting wool can really be in the morning—let alone any time bare skin is involved.
Our gloves have been embarrassing us on touchscreens for upwards of a decade now, but it looks like the technology has finally caught up.
Feast your eyes on the world’s first iPhone-friendly gloves—or at least the first ones that aren’t hideous.
These Dots gloves manage to pull off the trick without rubber pumps, patches or anything visible. Instead, they rely on microfibers in the fingertips. They’re so thin you can barely feel them, but they connect to the touch sensors just fine. And thanks to a collab with Opening Ceremony, they’ve turned out pretty handsome too.
Although we’re partial to the fabric-based end of things, we have to cop to this one: the perfect gift is usually some variety of toy.
And in the case of your more lyrically minded friends, it’s probably a toy replica of the three-headed lyrical beast known as De La Soul.
These limited edition figurines come courtesy of Kid Robot, which is why they’re so square, and why they’re warped enough that non-heads might not recognize the trio. But perched on top of the right boom box, they should be unmistakable.
We’ve got no complaints against zumba, tesuto or any of the recent legion of unpronounceable fitness routines—but sometimes you just want to lift something heavy—possibly during a montage.
We’ve got just the thing.
Say hello to the Leather Head Medicine Ball, a genuine piece of old school fitness technology. All told, it’s twelve pounds five ounces, just under a foot across, and more than able to make every muscle in your torso ache. Anyone staring down an old school training regimen will be thrilled to find it in their gift pile. The only catch: there are only 20 in the world, so you’d better snap this one up early.
It’s a tried-and-true principle: people like warm things. Hence, the holiday sweater, both as a staple of holiday party style and as a gift.
Fair Isle is still the classic, but we’d there’s room under the tree/bush for something new—in particular, this snap cardigan from SNS Herning circa 1971. It’s more of a Zissou vibe than you usually get during Bing Crosby season, but that just means the lucky giftee can wear it through to March.
And if, for some reason, he decides to join up with the merchant marine…